Kishanganj results and the politics of it all

By Navin | Updated: 03 Nov 2019

The victory of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) in the Bihar assembly by-elections from Kishanganj has set tongues wagging in not only political circles but also among the people at large. It came as a rude shock to many analysts and to the congress party itself, as they had all beleived the Congress party was going to win even if it were by a smaller margin. Recently Dr. Javed has won the Parliament elections with a comfortable lead from this assembly segment. Mr. Qamrul Hoda won by a margin of about 10,000 votes and relegated the Congress to the third position. Even though some false claim that the winning marging was as high as 19000. This is untrue and so is the claim that congress lost its deposit.

Many consider this as a reflection of politics in the near future in the Seemanchal region of Bihar. The eastern region of Bihar comprising Kishanganj, Araria, Purnea and Katihar districts, aare called Seemanchal due to its proximity with West Bengal, Bangladesh and Nepal. Many feel Muslims’ are moving away from the mainline secular parties. The last two elections since 2015 they feel have witnessed growing influence of AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi in this region as the usual claimants of the Muslim votes — the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal (U) and the Congress — have gradually been losing their strength and credibility among the minority community.

Asaduddin Owaisi — known for his oratory skills — is trying hard to lead the Muslim politics in Seemanchal and North Dinajpur district of West Bengal. He has been nourishing this region since 2015 assembly elections when he fielded candidates from six assembly constituencies; Kochadhaman, Kishanganj, Raniganj, Baisi, Amour and Balrampur assembly constituencies. It had made an impact but no seats came their way.

The AIMIM has finally made its electoral debut from Kishanganj now. Enthused by the response, the AIMIM has decided to expand its footprint in Bihar. The party has so far remained confined to Seemanchal but now it has decided to contest on all assembly seats in the 2020 assembly elections. The party has plans to focus on Darbhanga, Madhubani, Champaran, Siwan and other Muslim-dominated areas. 

“The AIMIM can provide a new political equation with the support of the minorities and Dalits in Seemanchal. We will be a force to reckon with in the state after next assembly polls,” claimed Akhtarul Iman, former MLA and party’s state president. Imaan was earlier associated with the Janata Dal (U) and RJD before becoming the face of AIMIM in Bihar. He had also unsuccessfully contested from Kishanganj in the last Lok Sabha polls. The seat was won by Congress and AIMIM came third.

The major sub-groups of Muslims in the region include the Kulhaiyas, the Suryapuris, the Shershahbadis or Bhatias and Paschimas. While the Kulhaiyas and Suryapuris have local roots and are sizeable in number, the Shershahbadis or Bhatias are migrants from neighbouring West Bengal and the Paschimas are settlers from the western districts of Bihar like Champaran, Muzaffarpur and Darbhanga.

The Seemanchal region has been at the centre-stage of Muslim politics and influences Muslim voters in constituencies along the Indo-Nepal border up to West Bengal in the east and Uttar Pradesh in the west. This stretch has high concentration of Muslims varying between 20 per cent and 70 per cent.

Kishanganj is the only Lok Sabha constituency in the country where Muslims account for nearly 70 per cent of the total population. Due to the region’s proximity with Bangladesh, the monolithic Muslim politics has always veered around infiltrators and refugees after the 1971 Bangladesh war. The BJP wants the National Register of Citizens (NRC) to be implemented in Kishanganj, Katihar, Purnea and Araria districts. The issue comes in handy for both the AIMIM and BJP to outwit each other.

Though the region has hitherto been a Congress stronghold, the politics here might change with the AIMIM making its foray into the electoral arena. 

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Navin 08 Nov 2019


Prabagaran 09 Nov 2019


Prabagaran 09 Nov 2019


Prabagaran 09 Nov 2019


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